Single, Married, Other.

In our fourteen years of marriage G and I have been apart in various different forms. In the early days it was simply about missing him. I missed having him at the dinner table. I missed having a date to take to an event. I missed him by my side on the couch in front of the telly. And when I woke up in the morning, the day always began with the initial disappointment of not finding him there next to me.

When I was pregnant it was all of the above and more. It was the unspoken fear of something happening without him. I fell down some stairs in a fairly dramatic fashion when I was about five months pregnant. I waited there quietly at the bottom of the stairs, terrified to stand up and discover that I had to face that something had gone wrong, alone. In my subsequent pregnancies I would have got up and laughed it off, but alone and pregnant does weird things to your mind.

Once the first little traveller had arrived G’s travel took on a different dimension in our relationship. I missed his hands. The hands that helped take the stuff out of the car or hold the baby while the stroller was folded. The hands that reached into the bottom of the bag to find the keys while little bodies lay like sand bags over my shoulder. Social occasions were no longer just about not having G, it was the logistics. A lunch at a friend’s house grappling to assemble a tricky porta cot with a screaming baby on my hip and a meal sitting cold on a table. A table that appeared to be full of everyone’s else’s partner but mine.

I’ve spoken to so many of you who know what I mean, those with spouses who travel, those who fly in, only to fly out. There’s many of us out there. We get the kids dressed, choose something to wear, prepare food, wrangle with car seats and seat belts before stopping to fill the car up with petrol; we arrive at our destinations knowing the fall back position is not available. You’re doing this one solo. You’re the designated driver, the emergency call, and the only one there in the middle of the night when the 24 hour bug hits.

It’s my choice to bring us all home without G at this time of year. Doha loses half of its population over the summer and activities are limited in the searing heat. We’re lucky to be able to have somewhere to come home to. So lucky.

But I miss him.

I’m sure that there are some people here in Australia who believe that G is a figure of my imagination.

“Is your husband home with you?” they asked with a raised eyebrow.

“What does he do again?”

G and I sit face to face through a laptop screen. He’s sitting at our family table in Qatar eating breakfast in a suit, while I’m thinking about what I’ll feed the children for dinner as they tear past the front window of the beach house on their bikes. I talk to him about my weekend, who was there, what was funny, the food, the wine he would have loved. He giggles at my stories about the children and tells me about the rugby club, work and the interesting guy he met who’s originally from South Australia. Time moves on until we both have to admit that it’s time to go, he has to get to work, he’ll be late. Our voices trail off not wanting to arrive at a definite end.

“Okay then, I’ll speak to you tomorrow…”

“Love you, miss you…”

I miss you too.

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